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This Is America With Dennis Wholey

News/Business. (2010) Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals. (CC)

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00:30:00

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ac3

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528

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480

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Hbo 3, America 3, Hyundai Motor America 2, Ctc 2, Nhl 2, The National Education Association 2, Ted Leonsis 1, Ashley Judd 1, Walter Scott 1, Robert Redford 1, Google 1, The Nation 1, Aol 1, Espn 1, Ken Holden 1, Michael Hendrickson 1, Mulligan 1, Youtube 1, John Buckley 1, Backwind 1,
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  WHUT    This Is America With Dennis Wholey    News/Business.  (2010) Ted Leonsis,  
   owner of the Washington Capitals. (CC)  

    September 19, 2010
    6:00 - 6:30pm EDT  

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>> ted, let's talk about happiness. what is your working definition of happiness? >> i think high-quality relationships with family members and employees and friends. happy longer. my dad lived to be 95 years old. unhappy people live three years less than satisfied people. and happiness comes in all shapes and sizes, but what i was in there but with was as a business person, what best practice and what characteristics and what traits do happy people and have the company's share? that is what the book deals with. you have your reckoning, you make your list -- your life plan -- and if you follow these tenets, you can go up the value chain of being happy for you individually, for you as a family person, as well as your
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company. >> you mentioned the word "reckoning," and for the folks who might not seen our first half-hour, you had a plane. there was trouble on the plane. you went through that time wondering if you were going to live or die. they straightened it out. there was an happy landing, but during that 35 minutes where you were circling around and dumping fuel and learning how to brace yourself for the crash, you basically, at 28 years old, will the person, said, "am i really happy?" >> we are here, and we have permission to be happy. i was here, and i was programmed to be successful. that was the big "ah-ha" that success and possession did not bring happiness. but i did not know what else there was.
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you read all the business books. you have to be tough. you have to lay them off. you have to scale the profitability. the truth is the businesses that i have launched following these tenets -- they have all been winning. maybe a nice guys can win. there is a new consumer, a new employee where they are on their path to happiness, and if you tap into that, it also generates a good business. >> the list you made up, 101 things, things you wanted to do, things you wanted to see, since you wanted to own. i jotted down some of them. you wanted to get married and have a family, pay off the college loans, start your own company and sell it, on a yacht, a jet, a mercedes, own a sports team -- these are things on the list which backwind.
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hole in one -- you are still working on that. >> i caught a foul ball, though. >> go to the olympics -- you're just there, as a matter of fact. go into outer space. >> my wife says that can be my 101st thing to. >> meet the president, make a movie. you are encouraging people to make this list. >> yes, envisioning having aspirations is a very powerful tool. i wrote down 26 years ago "owned a sports team, win a championship" and the opportunity presented itself to me 10 years ago. i passed it first, and my wife said to me, "what if you get 99 of the 101 things done? will you take yourself -- will you take yourself? will you have regrets?"
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>> my wife and our separate partners in such great friends. i also think i made a movie 25 years later, and i won an emmy award last year. >> tell the folks in a little bit about it. >> i made three films. my first one was about a terrible time in history. even the movie, i tried to find and hire calling in, i made a term called filmanthropy. let's make movies that sign and light on a tough subject and activate volunteerism. it was a "should lose list" kind of film about westerners who stayed behind when the japanese invaded and saved 250,000 people -- it was a "schindler's list" kind of film. one for best documentary for editing at sundance. it won emmy awards, and it scored high. hbo bought it.
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it started me thinking about double bottom-line businesses. that is the only business that i think is successful today. >> explain the term. >> in that case, it had to sell a lot of tickets, get great reviews with critics, get bought by television -- in this case, hbo -- win a lot of rewards, but it tried to right a wrong, tell a story, activate a lot of signatures about having the japanese acknowledged that this massacre even happen. the massacre is called the forgotten holocaust. all my movies now -- my second one was called "kicking it." it was about homelessness and the homeless world cup. we sold it to espn. it made a little money, but it really creative in a big
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activity around homelessness and about how the ball can transform someone's life, and it did a lot for sports because all we read about in sports is steroids and dogfighting and terrible things. here was a ball and athletes and the game of soccer transforming people's lives. >> you have a new one coming up that hbo is interested in. >> that one is called "the fighting chance." >> tell the folks who, and it is and how you got interested in him. >> cairo maynard -- kyle maynard is a wonderful man who was born without limbs and rather than use that as an excuse, he is the most charismatic, smartest young man i have ever met. he became a world-class wrestler in chrysler, and the movie is about his quest to fight in a
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mixed martial arts cage match -- he became a world-class wrestler in high school. he had to go all the way to the supreme court and was able to live his dream. >> the making of the films, being involved in the film's -- you set up this thing called snag films where people can go -- i do not know if they know about, but we'll put it on the screen. you can go to this website and watch all of these documentaries. >> one of the tenets of the book is that people have very high levels of personal expression. filmmaking, writing the book, doing snag films -- that makes me really happy. >> ted's book, "the business of happiness: 6 sigrid's to extraordinary success in work and life -- six secrets." back on the other side of the break. >> "this is america" is brought
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to you by -- hyundai motor america. the national education association -- the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the league of arab states -- representing 350 million people in 22 member countries. the rotandara family trust. the ctc foundation. and the american lives tv network. >> if your just meeting ted for the first time, 13 years at aol,
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one of the top executives, internet pioneer, owner of the caps, just sold a business to american express for a chunk of change, and the title of this book -- "the business of happiness." let's walk through the six different things because i think that people can get a sense of what you are talking about and may be filling in by reading the book. first of all, make the list. in addition. >> inculcate your crisis. instead of being a bad thing, embrace the good in it. you've got a mulligan. you can use this crisis. >> communities of interest you talk about. you talk about circles. what would be some of those communities? you seem to suggest -- because you did this survey.
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3500 people. 1500 people kind of happy, and you tried to come up with common denominators, and this kind of community of interest think. >> are actively manage my communities of interest. my wife, my two kids, extended family, school system, a church, my teens, my businesses, the employees. i am constantly looking at how much time and effort in spending, and i tried to connect those communities of interest. when you do something really bad, what is the threat? you are going to solitary confinement. they do not say, "we are sending you to a party with all your friends." the more social, the more connected we are, the happier we are. >> at one point, you say in the book that you think the greatest form of torture is -- you say hermits are not happy, right? >> they are not. we are social beings.
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now, there's all these tools like facebook, came -- aim, and it is true -- who are the most productive people at your company? the people who are the busiest. they have to leave work to go to church or leave work because they are running the softball team. >> little league, things like that. also interesting that you say that happy people tend to hang out with happy people. >> that is right. they want that positive reinforcement. guess what -- when you have communities of interest, you are doubling, tripling mathematically your opportunity to network, find people to sell things to, to find people you can learn from. >> nowadays, people are posting things on youtube. you have blogs. >> youtube -- one of the tenets is personal expression. what youtube has given rise to is tens of millions of people in three-minute bursts being able to say, "listen to what i had to
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say. watch what i do." >> personal expression -- i would imagine there is a great relief in fishing and doing a book. >> writing a book was hard. john buckley is one of my good friends. the great outcome of this -- >> helped you with this book. >> we became closer in writing and researching it together. another thing that came out of that and one of the things i talk about is and that the. -- empathy. it is this human emotion that keeps is functioning. high levels of empathy is what gives people the ability to put their day-to-day situation in perspective. i talk a lot about what our team, it is not about i, it is about we. >> clinton's thing was always
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about feeling somebody else's pain. them of stealing their joy is probably a little bit better. -- >> feeling their joy is probably a little bit better. >> it is about having a relationship with someone else you can put yourself in their shoes. >> the best leader i think is an empathetic leader. i listen, i interact, i blog every day, armonk facebook and twittered. i respond to every fan's e-mail, regardless of what they say. >> you have had a couple of altercations. >> i have a million interactions. a small price to pay for the ability to understand what is on the fans' minds. communities and interests, you have high levels of self expression, you have empathy.
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then you need to volunteer and give back. look at some of the great companies. i was an early supporter an early investor in google. google is probably the greatest enterprise right now. do you know what their corporate motto is? >> i have read it, and i forget it right now. >> do no evil. it has nothing to do with a lot of searches, the best algorithms. >> and their mission is just making all this information available. >> exactly. >> that was the mission, right? from the get go. >> people love working there, and a happier they are working there, doing things -- >> they get 20% of their time that they can do anything they want to do. >> exactly. that is a great example. when you first heard that and said you have to work 1/3 of your time on the core business and 1/3 of the time on corporate functions and another 15% or so on admin things, and 15% or 20%
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of your time, do it on something cool or good that will give back to the industry of society. you say that that is stupid, that it cannot be good business, and they turn into the most successful business in the world. >> you just used the word cool, and i remember a sentence in the book where you said that owning a sports team is undeniably cool. it was kind of fun. >> i pinch myself sometimes. i go to a game, maybe a playoff game something, and we win, and i'm jumping up like a fan, and i realize this is my team. and i go, "you know what? it is our team. i have given the team back to the fans." >> washington parkway, traffic is terrible. it is a parking lot. you look over, there's somebody else in another car screaming
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and yelling. what is your reaction? >> gratitude is a very important human trait that will lead you to happen this -- happiness. that situation -- it was 6:00. it was the greatest sunset i have ever seen. the sun is going down, literally exploding, reminded me of this romantic what i had with my wife in hawaii. i call my wife. i say, open a close week, are you near a window? you have to look out the window. even though we were in traffic, i was so grateful for this memory and the sunset, and my wife and i had this 20-minute conversation about the love we shared and what we had an abdication, and i look over it -- the what we had on this vacation, and i look over, and this is this guy beat in his corner, screaming. he did not even see the sunset.
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he was met -- miserable. that is a example of the product and have the situation in the same environment as someone who is kind of wasting his life. >> when you were referencing by giving back, that concept, i thought of this little saying that i had heard. those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. >> that is perfect. >> i remember so many things i heard a long time ago. if you are going through a bad patch, turn over the pieces of furniture in the house and walked out and help someone else. give back. it is not always just writing a check. >> i was in the big board meeting yesterday, and there was some stress and asked -- angst even though the company is doing well. i left, and i have gotten
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involved in some homeless situations. i have kind of adopted personally a homeless person, and they were in a bit of a bind, and i spent two hours of my day yesterday on this world -- this one issue. it was funny because i was thinking about this one company were on the board and the nominating and governance committee, and i had to spend a couple hours of my time helping this individual, but what this person needed -- the change that it engendered was just as important to that person as what i would do for this company, so i felt better at the end of the day and more connected to the world by helping this one person than i did in helping to steer this big public company. >> one of the things that folks will maybe have some difficulty getting their arms around is this idea of searching out a higher calling for a purpose. you say that that is really
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critically important. what is your highest calling? >> my personal higher calling, i think, is i would like to be loved, not needed. i would like to leave more than i take. even with the washington capitals, i do not want to make the playoffs or even win a stanley cup. i would like immortality for our players. i want their names on that stanley cup and forever there. and i would like to bring the city closer together. i remember growing up in 1969 in new york, the mets won the world series, the jets won the super bowl, and my father would take three games. those are my fondest memories, and there is touch points and memories that you create. i see this every day now. our team is in first place in the nhl, and we are doing the right things the right way. the city is really proud of us. i came back from the olympics, i
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want to wash my car, waiting in line to pay, and a woman asked me if i'm ted leonsis. i said yes, and she said that she could not take my money. she said the owner said if i ever came in to get my car washed they could not take my money because they love what i have done with the team. in starbucks, a gentleman came up to me and said only a debt of gratitude. was with the state department, had been in iraq for two years, has a miserable job working on the hostage negotiation desk. his son was 9 years old, and the videoconference love you as a way. he is a huge capstan, and he had watched the games. they would watch the games on the internet and talk about the games. the state to get a foot is two years, and that he was back, they would go to practices and games. -- they stayed together over those two years. so i want us to win a stanley
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cup. i want to bring the city together. i want to have the most points in the nhl, but i also want our players to give back to the community. i want our franchise to be seen as a catalyst and as role models and as a way to give back to the community as well. that is another example of a double bottom line business. >> people know the names of robert redford, ashley judd, people who are famous. but you make an interesting point -- is not the obvious that brings unhappiness, right? >> that is right. bono is a huge rock star. whether you like him or not, like his politics or not -- he did win a nobel prize, but even the helps him to do good. many of these people that i profile, i use them to juxtapose regular people, the subway heroes who showed empathy.
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the man who drove into the tracks to save someone's life. a teacher who started a scholarship program to give away her life and career to give back. how these people are so far julies, and rich and famous or people who are not brand names, they have been able to unlock the power because of having it -- power and seeds of happiness by following these tenets. >> you mentioned michael hendrickson, and walter scott global. pick one of them, and just say why these folks bring you happiness. >> ken holden suffers from mental retardation, and no one thought he would be able to function with a computer. we started something called e- buddies.
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we e-mail every single day teary we are in our 14th year. i consider him one of my best friends -- we e-mail every single day. we are in our 14th year. it is five minutes a day for me to e-mail him. michael hendricks and is a young man i kind of adopted through the hoop dreams program. he had never had a father. i became a father figure to him. for the last 10 years, we have e-mailed every single day. michael will be part of my life, and has encouraged it greatly. walter is a big capstan. he is handicapped. he was in jail for a while. he was homeless. he would watch all the caps games outside the building. we became friends. i asked him why he could not get a job. and homelessness is a really slippery slope. you do not have an address, you
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cannot get a job. without a job, you cannot get a house. we became friends. we got him a place to live. if we got him a job. i talked to him every single day. i wanted to get a hands-on experience before i dramatically tried to help the charities around it. all of these people and the action have made me happy. they have added more to my life than i have added to theirs. >> lynn an dthd thekids everyboy doing okay? then my son goes to the university of pennsylvania, leaves a volunteer organization. my daughter is a senior in high school, ready to go to college. she also is the head of the volunteer club. my wife tries to keep in the center to make sure we do not over index on any of these one pursuits. >> what is the single greatest lesson you have learned in your
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life? >> probably that if you do the right things the right way, you can sleep well at night, things will turn out for the best. >> i want you to, when you are into the bookstore, pick up this book and look it over. page through a little bit. read a little bit about ted, his bio in the back. the premise that it is the happy people who are successful. "the business of happiness." just a treat to sit and talk with you. >for online video all "this is america" programs, visit our website, pbs.org -- thisis america.net. "this is america" is brought to you by -- hyundai motor america.
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the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the league of arab states, representing 350 million people in 22 member countries. rotandaro family trusts. the ctc foundation. and if the american life tv network and if the american life tv network
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